Book 20 of 2012 – Die a Stranger – Steve Hamiton

In 2004 I read my first Steve Hamilton Alex McKnight novel, Winter Of The Wolf Moon, the second book in the series. The only reason that I read that novel first was that the award winning Cold Day in Paradise was checked out of the library! But after finishing Book 2,  Book 1 followed closely, and I’ve been a fan of the series ever since! Yesterday the 9th  book in the series Die A Stanger became book 20  of 2012! Alex McKnight is an ex-Detroit cop who, with a bullet lodged near his heart, rents cabins in Paradise, a small town in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  This installment of the series focuses on Alex’s best friend, Vinnie LeBlanc. It started as a bad week for Vinnie, his mother the respected leader of the Bay Mills Reservation had died. On her death bed, she mistakes Vinnie for his father, who had long ago  abandoned Vinnie and his siblings. Later that night Vinnie a teetotaler because of this father, meets Alex at their favorite inn, The Glasgow and orders a drink, resulting in the first night he ever got drunk! But that same night, after parting ways with Alex….(from Hamilton’s website)

 A plane lands on a deserted Upper Peninsula airstrip, late at night. Five dead bodies are found the next morning.

And now Vinnie LeBlanc is missing.

Vinnie is an Ojibwa tribal member, a blackjack dealer at the Bay Mills Casino, and he just might be Alex’s best friend. He’s come through for Alex more than once in the past, and he never ever misses a day of work. So Alex can’t help but be worried…..

The next morning Alex finds a stranger in Vinnie’s cabin, it turns out to be Vinnie long lost father Lou, returned to find and help his son! Together Alex and Lou set out on a race against time to find and save Vinnie.

The book is written in Hamilton’s quick no nonsense style, full of wit and humor with plenty of twists and turns.  McKnight is the narrator and he knows his limits like in this passage:

N0, stay positive, I thought. You’re gonna find a way out of this. Even if you have to do something stupid, all by yourself. You’r certainly good at being stupid. 

I certainly think that you can read this book without reading the others, but I am sure that once you do you’ll find yourself wanting more of the series! Here’s a sample of Hamilton’s writing from the start of Chapter Two………


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Book 19 – Misery Bay – Steve Hamilton

So I was all set last night to write about my run. How another rock band Voodoo Circle and their new album Black Heart Syndrome was the soundtrack for the 4.2 mile run complete in just under a ten minute per mile pace (which was not bad because I went uphill for parts of the run), but alas that was not to be! I sat down started to read Book 19 Steve Hamilton‘s latest Alex McKnight novel Misery Bay and continued reading until I went to bed,(except for that 1/2 hour nap). I finished the book at lunchtime today.<u> Misery Bay</u> is the eighth book in the McKnight series and the first since 2006 and is a worthy addition to the series.

The story starts when Alex gets a visit from an old nemesis Sault Ste. Marie police chief Roy Maven, who has appeared in past books. Maven asks Alex to do a job for his friend Charles “Raz” Razniewski. Razniewski and Maven were on the State Police force years earlier and recently Razniewki’s son had committed suicide. Razniewski wants McKnight to go to his son’s college and talk to some friends and generally try to find out why his son killed himself.  Alex does just that and when he returns he really doesn’t have any reason for the suicide. When he goes to report his findings to the senior Razniewski, who is staying at Maven’s home, he finds Razniewki laying on Maven’s kitchen floor with his throat slashed! The FBI soon sends two agents to investigate “Raz’s murder because he is now a U.S. Marshall. The agents soon determine that the murder is probably retaliation for some of the unsavory, well connected criminals Raz has put away. But Maven and Alex don’t think so and set of to investigate the suicide and murder. Soon they  connect another police officer’s son suicide to the case and the story moves on from there!

I love everything about this series. The setting Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, which sounds like a wonderful place to visit (maybe for the three days of summer), the characters Alex, Maven, Alex’s friend Vinnie, Leon Purcell and Jackie, owner of the Glasgow Inn. The stories are always interesting and the pages usually fly by! While this the eight in the series, I think that it can be read alone and then the reader can go back and find out about some of the earlier events. Like how Alex’s cabin burned down and what happened to Alex’s love Natalie Reynaud:

Before I lit the match, I took one f the slats of wood and I rubbed the spot where the blood had seeped in forever. I said good-bye to Natalie Reynaud one more time. I kissed the wood once and then put it back on the pile.

So go and visit Alex and the residents of Paradise, Michigan and I’m sure it won’t be your  last visit!!

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